Sophia flinched as the last greenhouse panel shattered. From her bedroom she watched the girl climb the garden wall, kick through her prizewinning roses and recover the ball from the flowerbed. Only a week had past since the first window became a casualty. Now only splinters hung from the metal frame. Inside, her plants withered to brown in the draughts. The girl stared at the house. Seeing Sophia looking she swore at the older woman, emphasising her annoyance at been spotted with several hand gestures.
Opening a bedside table drawer, Sophia took out her polished saddle stone and balanced it in front of her mirror. From a pouch of muscle in her arm she siphoned out glasswort, devil’s horsewhip, and several stained splinters she had collected from amongst her tomato plants.
The blood dried on the glass tasted of coins against her tongue. She spat them onto the quern and used the heel of her hand to grind the mixture to dust. While whispering backwards to herself, Sophia blew the powder into the garden.
The girl started to shine before she was back over the wall. Once in the alley her skin was transparent, organs visible until they too turned to glass.
By the time Sophia got downstairs, house locked against further intrusions, the girl could no longer move. As solid as a vase freshly rapped from a blowpipe. Stood behind, Sophia pushed the girl to the floor and ground the splinters of her to sand against the cobbles.
On The First Turn
The labyrinth engulfed the front room. John stood at the quartz marked entrance, and looked for a different route across to the front door.
None existed. He stepped in.
The maze was fenced by flattened reeds, bundled into hedges, their stems blackened with damp and blight. Between, the path was worn to bedrock, surface scattered with a powder from a thousand footsteps that weren’t his.
On the first turn, he knelt to look closer at the barriers hedging him in. Beetles the colour of snow rattled the spikelets. They rubbed their legs against the rotten seeds and made music that ached his head.
On the second turn he tied a silk scarf around his mouth and nose against the dust clogging his eyes. A little dropped onto his lips, tasting of funeral urns and rain ruined petals.
On the third turn, he became disorientated and concerned he would lose his way. Slitting the back of his neck with the nail on his wedding finger, John drew out his spine, loose hanging nerves wrapping themselves around his fists. On the fourth, fifth and sixth turn he dropped a vertebrae, like Hansel crumbs. He did not notice the snow coloured insects skitter over his bones, growing fat on the marrow. For nourishment he scraped the black mould from the hedging and did not sleep when the visions came.
On the seventh turn, he screamed until his lungs bled, and spat scabs into the roots and soil.
On the eighth turn, the reeds arched over, pressing down into the scar below his scalp until the glumes scraped his muscles raw.
On the ninth turn, he entered the centre of the labyrinth, the flood ruined carpet sodden under his hands and knees. He stood, and opened his eyes.
John stood at the quartz marked entrance, and looked for a different route across to the front door.
None existed. He stepped in.
Hope you enjoy them. Come back next Monday for seven more stories.